CRIMINAL Sentencing, Plea Agreement, Sex Offender Registration: Buford v. Commonwealth (COA 10/2/2009)

Buford v. Commonwealth
2008-CA-001272 10/02/09 2009 WL 3151090 DR Pending
Opinion by Judge Thompson; Chief Judge Combs and Senior Judge Buckingham concurred.

The Court reversed an order of the circuit court denying a motion for specific performance of a plea agreement and remanded to allow appellant to withdraw his guilty plea. The Court first held that appellant was statutorily required to be a lifetime sex offender registrant under KRS 17.520(2)(a)(4), and neither the trial court nor the Commonwealth could provide any lesser requirement. Therefore, the trial court could not strictly enforce the Commonwealth’s contractual obligation that limited the registration period to 10 years. However, because the period of registration was the central issue during the plea proceedings, appellant was misinformed on the law, and the trial court had reason to know that the registration period was an essential element of the agreement, fundamental fairness required that appellant be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial.

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